Very few people in today’s time would know that a firm called MATHIS belonging to Ernest Charles Mathis (Émile) was a successful automobile manufacturer in France before World War I and at one time was trailing just behind Peugeot, Renault and Citroen at number 4 position with his Matford brand.
After the war when people were seeking cheaper alternatives, Émile took the initiative to construct a small vehicle that would have space for just three passengers. He roped in the well known Jean Andreau (who had earlier designed the Dubonnet Dolphin) for executing his idea.
By July 1942, the first tear-drop prototype was created and by September the second prototype was made. Ernest Mathis target was to have a car that would exceed every expectation as far as fuel economy was concerned. So with a tear-drop shape body made out of aluminium that was 20 guage thick, this car having the lowest drag coefficient of 0.28cd would do 100 kms with just 3.5 litres of petrol though under the bonnet it carried a flat-twin water-cooled 700 cc engine with 15 hp power. The car weighed just below 400 kg.
The car was named VL333. The alphabets VL stood for ‘voiture legere’ which means 'light car' in French. The 333 implied the following,
- it would carry 3 passengers
- it could run for 100 km with only 3-litres of petrol
- it only had 3 wheels
This car was launched with much fanfare in 1946. Out of the eight built only one survives today.
|- Premium collectible|
|- Licensed product|
|- Material: RESIN|
|- High precision miniature models|
|- Non-opening bonnet, boot and doors|
|- Exclusive Edition models|
|- On plinth (platform base) and plexiglas hard-display case|
|- Only 333 pieces created|
|Box Dimension (in inches)||7 x 3 x 3|